By Tim Lucas | Posted: Wednesday December 2, 2020


Greetings from Deep Cove in beautiful Pātea/Doubtful Sound. 

I'm writing this from the school hostel and it's pouring with rain. Not Dunedin rain but a Doubtful Sound deluge that's like millions of missiles slamming straight into the earth every second. Wet or fine, this place has to be seen to be believed. 

Doubtful Sound was originally named 'Doubtful Harbour' in 1770 by Captain James Cook as he did not enter the inlet as he was uncertain whether it was navigable under sail. It was later renamed Doubtful Sound by whalers and sealers, although it is not technically a sound but a fiord. U-shaped valleys that have been sculpted by ancient glaciers dominate the local landscape. 

On Tuesday morning the group experienced this first hand with a strenuous walk in sunny conditions up the Hanging Valley track to Kea Rock and Huntleigh Falls. The fiords that give this corner of New Zealand its name are also teeming with marine life and staff and students on the fishing camp have been lucky this week. From Gurnard, Dogfish Sharks, Blue Cod, Jock Stewarts (Sea Perch) to Grouper, we have enjoyed baiting, casting and catching plenty of fish. Year 13 mentor Sam Beckwith has been running the fishing leaderboard and so far winning with 12 fish is Isobel McKewen with Jamie Hall biting at her heels with 11. 

Another highlight was the scenic cruise yesterday. We departed Deep Cove and sailed up the sound to Elizabeth Island/Taipari Roa before turning portside and steaming into the prehistoric looking Hall Arm. You feel very small as you sail past this area's towering iconic mountains such as Commander Peak, Mt Troup and Mt Danae. 

After dinner on Wednesday, Reading Cinemas Deep Cove were at the hostel and proved to be a hit with the students enjoying the latest blockbuster films. Helena Falls and Stella Falls are two permanent waterfalls in Deep Cove that the students visited on Thursday morning via the Old Doubtful Track. After completing this four-hour walk, it was back on the water to fish, fish, fish! 

As part of the package, the school hostel provides two 14-foot Stabicraft boats for us to use. Staff teach the students how to safely skipper these vessels while supervised and good fishing is enjoyed about 10 meters offshore at places like Brasell Point, Driftwood Cove and Archer Point. Having no cell phone coverage at Deep Cove has been fantastic too. We have got stuck into some good old fashioned fun with activities like: night walks spotting native trout and glow worms, kiwi listening, spot light, fishing, confidence course, swimming, playing cards, board games and chatting. 

Legendary Kavanagh teacher Iris and parent helpers Veronica Lapham and Patrick McKewen have been outstanding as have Year 13 students Taylor Baughan and Sam Beckwith. Next year in December will be the sixth time Kavanagh College has visited this magical place when the Fishing camp returns. Haere rā ki Pātea (Farewell from Doubtful Sound).